Chicago Plays!

Has anyone else noticed all the great new playgrounds sprouting up around the city?

It is all part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! program, launched in 2013 that ambitiously aims at adding or renovating over 300 parks.

Today we enjoyed the fruits of his labor at Morrie Mages park. dsc_0743

There were all kinds of different ropes to climb as well as new and unusual play structures.dsc_0723 dsc_0740

dsc_0734 dsc_0753The park is completely fenced off and includes a large open area to run and for Aaron, find sticks!dsc_0751 dsc_0750

There are also some great picnic benches!

Now I’m on a quest to try out the other 299ish parks that are getting a face lift…

Pin It

Tooth Fairy Lays an Egg

The last tooth Ben lost I tried a new tactic, a hunt of different colors. Under his pillow was an envelope with a square of color. He would have to find the color on the front of next the envelope somewhere in the house, open it to reveal a new color, then find that new color on a front of a new envelope.

It was a disaster. Ben has a lot of trouble locating the colors and sometimes he would find the wrong one and not realize it wasn’t a match.

So when he lost his tooth on Wednesday, I went back to what I knew was a favorite hunt of his, easter eggs.dsc_0652

Eggs were hidden in all kinds of nooks and crannies in our house, each one contained a picture of the place where the next egg was.

dsc_0655As usual, Ben has his trusted side kick, Jack there to help him navigate the hunt.

In the end, he got cold, hard cash.dsc_0642-1

Pin It

Little Beans in Evanston

On a tip from my friend Kelly, I signed up for a new service called Pearachute.

The service gives you options to drop in play at many different ‘pay to play’ spaces in the city and suburbs.

I really like the flexibility, and the fact that you can see so many different places, your kids never get bored.

But be warned, it is not a discount site, sometimes the price you pay to pearachute is more expensive than the general entry fee.

Having said that, because of the new service, we motivated to check out the Little Beans Cafe in Evanston.

It took us a mere 22 minutes to get there, which is just about how long it takes to get to the one in the city if you include trolling for parking, but this one had so much more.

With the suburbs comes extra space. Ample parking and a drive through were features you just can’t get in the city. And because they had so much space, there was a ton of different rooms to play in. We took advantage of them all.

The ‘Little Bean’s Village’ room was similar to the entire cafe in the city, except there was an extra crazy laser light room that we danced around in for a while in the back.img_5145

But in addition to that, they also had ‘Big Beans’ area with obstacle course.img_5131 img_5163 img_5164

And karaoke room! img_5136

There was also a full gym area where you could play hockey, soccer or basketball.img_5154 img_5146 img_5156

On the way out I saw a library with arts and crafts. They also hold kid classes.

I’d have to say, traveling an extra 10 minutes to have parking, four times as many things to do in a less crowded space for less money makes me wonder what else is in the nearby suburbs for the kids and I to explore.

Pin It

Montrose Beach

By accident this weekend we ended up at Montrose Beach instead of our normal haunt at Foster Avenue.DSC_0612

Normally I pick Foster Avenue Beach for it’s quiet, family friendly atmosphere. But the parking was full and we had to wing it.

Much as I prefer a family beach, I must say I found Montrose Beach highly entertaining.DSC_0619 DSC_0616

It is much more lively for sure! I think I passed three different speakers blaring anything from Hotel California to Mexican Pop.

Besides your standard ice cream cart, we saw vendors with long sticks of cotton candy attached and carts full of Duros.

We even saw a guy cart in his own drum stove and make tacos on the spot! DSC_0618

There was also a lively outdoor seating area with alcohol service and food. This was a nice addition to the beach, even if alcohol sales it meant there was a line for the woman’s bathroom.

I know America has a lot of problems, but one of our greatest successes is our diversity. While walking back to the car, pot smoking African American youths sat next to a chatty group of Korean grandmothers. Right behind them I spotted a bunch of headscarves huddled together sharing food.

The kids settled right in, doing their normal routine of running everywhere. I’m not sure they know how to walk…DSC_0601 DSC_0607

It was another lovely beach day, the last before Jack went back to school. Until next year, beach days!

Pin It